Many U3A members don’t just do voluntary work, we do quite a lot of voluntary work, often across a number of organisations! Our U3A executive and convenors put in many additional volunteer hours, particularly those who are both on the U3A executive and convene one or more course activities. It was therefore most surprising to find there was no opportunity to estimate the number of volunteer hours we do.
The question relating to ‘Unpaid Work At Home’ distinguished between ‘No’, ‘Yes, less than 5 hours; ‘Yes, 5 to 14 hours; ‘Yes, 15 to 29 hours’ and ‘Yes, 30 hours or more’. Perhaps volunteer work could have been measured in this way as well.
Then there is the question as to how the ABS would value each volunteer hour spent if they used an imputed cost to measure the value of the volunteer work by U3A members in the census. A recent U3A related paper which looked at this issue imputed a value of $20 an hour.
Most of the unpaid work U3A members do as volunteers is not routine work, however, with members of the executive in particular carrying out complex roles requiring managing programs, budgets and carrying out a range of negotiations.
The past year has seen our committee members, in particular President Terry Case, Past President Geraldine McCorkell and Vice President Dorothy Webber, responding to the insecurity engendered last year when the Centre suddenly abandoned its Barkly Campus and the role it had played in relation to U3A. Terry, Geraldine and Dorothy have spent many, many hours considering and engaging in negotiations looking towards a more secure accommodation for U3A Benalla over the longer term. This has not been without complications, but hearing about accommodation issues facing other U3A’s at regional, statewide and national conferences, we are clearly not alone.
Negotiations are continuing and have been complex. Whatever the outcome, it is important to value the efforts which have been made by Terry, Geraldine and Dorothy (who are also convenors of course activities) in recent negotiations, and the long history of committee members who have worked on accommodation issues in the past. If we imputed the value of their efforts in terms of a paid work amount, the amount in dollar terms would be staggering.
Even if the census hasn’t prioritized valuing volunteer work and the many hours spent across the organizational structure of U3A, we should.
Thank you Terry, Geraldine and Dorothy for all your hard work.
*Bev Lee prepared this editorial on behalf of the Newsletter/Website team. Terry Case will
return with his President’s Message next month.